Noel Gallagher would no doubt agree with a study showing that elder siblings really are more intelligent than their younger brothers or sisters.
An analysis of almost a quarter of a million teenagers found that first-born children have a noticeably higher IQ on average than their siblings.
Scientists believe that although the difference in IQ is small, it is still big enough to impart significant benefits to older brothers and sisters during the course of their life.
They also believe that the difference is not due to the birth order alone - caused for example by differences in nutrition in the womb - but rather it is due to the fact that older siblings experience a different childhood upbringing than their younger family members.
One theory is that elder siblings take on the role of unofficial tutors to their younger relatives which makes the elder child more mature and intelligent.
Sir Francis Galton, the 19th-century scientist and father of the eugenics movement, was the first person to seriously study the apparent superiority of first-born sons who, he had noticed, tended to be appointed to prominent positions in society.
In the early 1970s, Dutch scientists showed more scientifically that birth order is associated with higher intelligence, with first-borns tending to score better on IQ tests. But some scholars believed that the findings were simply phantom artefacts resulting from uncontrolled differences between families caused by such things as family size, socio-economic status, parental IQ and other confounding factors.
However, the latest study by Petter Kristensen of the University of Oslo and Tor Bjerkedal of the Norwegian Armed Forces Medical Services, suggests that there really is a statistically significant difference.
They studied the military records of 241,310 Norwegian conscripts aged between 18 and 19 to see if birth order could be linked with intelligence as measured by the results of their IQ tests on enrolment.
They also included in the study second-born children whose elder sibling had died when very young to see if these second-borns had a higher IQ than other second-borns who had remained the second eldest child in the family.
What they found, in a study published in the journal Science, was that it was not merely the fact of being the first-born that was important. Being raised as the eldest child was also important for second-borns whose elder sibling had died in early life. "This study provides evidence that the relation between birth order and IQ scores is dependent on the social rank in the family and not birth order as such," the scientists said.
Frank Sulloway, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the difference in IQ between first and second-born siblings of 2.3 points was big enough to result in major differences in achievement.
One possible explanation for the findings, he said, is that elder children acting as tutors to their young siblings begin to benefit from this teaching role.
"Through the organisation and expression of thoughts, teaching younger siblings is posited to benefit the tutor more than the learner, especially since last-borns have no one to tutor," he said.
Smarter older sibling: Noel and Liam Gallagher
The talent in this Mancunian duo is fairly one-sided. While younger brother Liam causes havoc, starts fights and occasionally sings, it is widely believed that Noel is the one who brought Oasis success and kept the band on track. Noel, who plays guitar in the band, is credited with writing almost all the songs that brought them critical acclaim.
In the balance: Jonathan and David Dimbleby
The children of the esteemed broadcaster Richard Dimbleby are evenly matched. David, the older of the two, has had a succession of highbrow current affairs jobs at the BBC, including Panorama and Question Time. Jonathan, who studied philosophy at University College London, is also a broadcaster and presents the Radio 4 programme Any Questions?
Smarter younger sibling: David and Richard Attenborough
While hardly an under-achiever, actor and director Richard lacks the intellectual clout of his younger brother, David. While Richard went straight from school to RADA, David won a scholarship to Cambridge and has succeeded in a variety of fields, first as the director of BBC2, then as one of the world's most famous television nature experts
24 June 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007 stopcryingyourheartout.com 1 comment